Duke–UNC Orthopaedic Pediatric Surgery Fellowship

Dates: August 1 through July 31

Program training directorRobert K. Lark, MD

Associated faculty:  Benjamin A. Alman, MD;  Robert D. Fitch, MD; Anthony Catanzano, Jr., MD

Associated UNC Faculty: James Sanders, MDCraig Louer, MDJoseph Stone, MDAnna D. Vergun, MD

Number of fellows:  Two (Duke Institutional Committee for Graduate Medical Education accredited)


Program details

This fellowship is in cooperation with UNC Hospital in Chapel Hill. Fellows will complete a six-month rotation at each hospital, providing them an experience to a broader range of clinical experience and hospital practices. The goal of the Duke/UNC Pediatric Orthopaedic Surgery Fellowship is to provide the fellows special training and knowledge in pediatric musculoskeletal disorders, including:

  • Congenital and developmental limb disorders
  • Scoliosis
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Neuromuscular disorders
  • Trauma

Multidisciplinary specialty clinics include scoliosis, myelodysplasia, and cerebral palsy.

The fellows will gain extensive experience in the Ilizarov method for both upper and lower extremity, Spatial Frame and spinal deformity correction. Experience in pediatric trauma emphasizes both recent trends in operative management and non-operative care.

The fellows will work closely with current residents and eight pediatric orthopaedic surgeons as they participate daily in clinics and the operating suite, inpatient rounds, and pediatric consults. In the clinic setting, the fellows will experience a mentored program designed to develop interviewing skills, expert physical examination, and judgment. In the operating room, the fellows will learn the technical aspects of surgery of the immature spine and extremities.  Fellows will receive graded independent experience, including the ability to supervise resident trainees. 

Each month the fellows will participate in two joint conferences - one for complex cases and one for Pediatric Journal Club.  In addition, there are monthly faculty lectures.

An extensive orthopaedic research laboratory is available to both residents and fellows. A modern fresh cadaver laboratory fully equipped with surgical instruments is available for practice of surgical procedures and anatomic dissection. There is 24-hour access to a well-stocked orthopaedic library.


Benjamin (Ben) Alman went to medical school at Jefferson Medical College before completing his residency in orthopaedics at Tufts University School of Medicine, and a pediatric orthopaedic fellowship at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. Prior to his arrival at Duke, Ben was the head of Orthopaedics at the Hospital for Sick Children. He now serves as the Urbaniak Professor and Chair of Orthopaedic Surgery at Duke. Ben has a general pediatric orthopaedic practice, but with a focus on children with orthopaedic syndromes, tumors and tumor-like conditions, and neuromuscular problems. He received the Tator Mentoring Award from the University of Toronto, the Association for Surgical Education Excellence in Innovation Award, the Huene award for outstanding contributions to pediatric orthopedics, and the outstanding clinical paper awarded at a recent POSNA meeting. While training with Ben you will learn a practical approach to syndromes we see in orthopaedics, how to treat patients with deformity due to tumors or tumor-like conditions, an efficient approach to common pediatric orthopaedic conditions, and to question dogma.

Robert Fitch completed medical school and residency training at Duke University. Following a fellowship at the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital, he joined the Orthopaedic faculty at Duke in 1983. In addition to his broad experience in general orthopaedics and trauma, he attends a multidisciplinary cerebral palsy clinic and is the medical director of the myelodysplasia clinic. He has specific expertise and interest in limb deformity management and has a busy spinal deformity practice. While working with Dr. Fitch, the clinical exposure will be broad and deep; there will be an emphasis on honing surgical skills and refining physical diagnosis capabilities.

Robert (Rob) Lark attended medical school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill prior to completing his orthopaedic residency at Duke University. He then went on to complete his pediatric orthopaedic fellowship at Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego, California before returning to Duke to join the faculty in 2010. Dr. Lark has clinical and research interests in early-onset spine deformity, pediatric trauma, and growth. Rob is an active member of POSNA and the SRS, serving on committees for both organizations. Working with Dr. Lark you will be exposed to virtually all aspects of pediatric orthopaedics including trauma, growing spine techniques, and advanced hip reconstruction.

Anthony A. Catanzano, Jr. attended medical school at the New York University School of Medicine prior to completing his orthopaedic residency at Duke University. He completed fellowship training at Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego, California before returning to Duke to join the faculty in 2021. Dr. Catanzano's passion for pediatric orthopaedics developed from a desire to help children overcome difficulties and limitations as they grow whether it is scoliosis, hip dysplasia, limb deformity and fractures, or neuromuscular coniditions. My goal is to support and guide patients and families through decision-making approach.

Anna D. Vergun’s clinical focus is on hip dysplasia, clubfoot, limb deficiency, and lower limb deformity. She completed her orthopaedic residency at the University of California Los Angeles and her fellowship in Pediatric Orthopaedics at Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. She also has an interest in international issues regarding pediatric orthopaedics and access to care and serves on the medical advisory board for MiracleFeet and The Palestine Children’s Relief Fund. She is an active member of the Association of Children’s Prosthetics and Orthotics Clinics, the Pediatric Orthopedic Society of North America, and the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. In her spare time, she enjoys her three children and the great outdoors.

Craig Louer attended medical school at Duke University, followed by orthopedic surgery residency at Washington University in St. Louis. He completed the Pediatric Orthopaedics and Scoliosis Fellowship at Rady Children's Hospital in San Diego. He has published and presented research on pediatric hip conditions, scoliosis, sports medicine, as well as trauma. His clinical interests include spinal deformity, limb deformity, hip conditions, neuromuscular and general pediatrics. 

Joseph Stone’s clinical focus includes spinal deformity including early-onset scoliosis with special interest in nonfusion procedures in addition to advanced hip preservation techniques for select hip pathology. He joined UNC Faculty after practicing at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta for the nearly 5 years. He attended medical school at the Medical College of Georgia followed by his orthopedic residency at the University of Kentucky. He then went on to complete his pediatric orthopaedic fellowship at Children’s Colorado. He’s a member of Children’s Spine Study Group, POSNA, and AAOS; and currently serves as UNC Site Fellowship Director. 

James Sanders graduated with his medical degree from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and went on complete a residency program in Orthopaedic Surgery at University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio and fellowship in pediatric orthopaedics and scoliosis at Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children in Dallas, TX.   Prior to his arrival at UNC, Dr. Sanders was Director of Pediatric Surgical Services and Division Chief of Pediatric Orthopaedics at the University of Rochester and Golisano Children’s Hospital in Rochester, NY and before that, Chief of Staff at Shriners Hospital for Children in Erie, PA.   He is currently the Chair of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of North Carolina.  Dr. Sanders has a general pediatric orthopaedic practice with a focus on scoliosis.  For his work on predicting human spine growth to maturity, he recently won the Behrooz Akbarnia MD Award for Best Paper at the International Congress on Early Onset Scoliosis, as well as the Hibbs Award for Best Basic Research Paper from the Scoliosis Research Society.  His research interests are in spinal growth and skeletal maturity as well as improving care through quality improvement techniques.

Alumni society

Graduating fellows of the Duke-UNC Orthopaedic Pediatric program will become part of the prestigious Piedmont Orthopedic Society. Induction into this group of life-long learners includes access to an annual meeting and alumni reunions at events such as the AAOS annual meeting and the annual meeting of the Piedmont Society.

How to apply

Accepting applications: 2024-2025 (Fall 2022)
Match participationSF Match
ICGME program number: 9900000000
Application deadline: November 1

We accept applications through the Central Application Service (CAS), a service provided through SF Match that distributes applications to training programs. The use of CAS assures that applications are uniform, complete and distributed in an orderly fashion. You must register with the SF Match and pay an additional fee in order to access CAS. Please refer to SF Match for more information.

What you’ll need

The following application materials are required and should be submitted through CAS:

  • CAS Distribution Choices and Payment (online submission)
  • CAS Application Service (online submission)
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Three letters of recommendation:
    • One of which should be from the chairman or program training director of your training program
    • Letters must be on official letterhead and may not be older than six months
  • Copy of USMLE/COMLEX transcript (all three steps; passed within three attempts)
  • ECFMG Certificate (applicable to international graduates)

Application requirements

In order to be eligible for ICGME-accredited fellowship training, Applicant must adhere to the following application requirements:

  • Applicant must provide proof that you have taken and passed all three steps (within three attempts) of appropriate medical licensure examinations (USMLE/COMLEX), which is required by the North Carolina Medical Board and is a Duke Institutional Policy for all appointees to Duke for all graduate medical trainees whether United States or international medical school graduates at the PGY-3 level or higher, as well as, qualify for a resident training license in the State of North Carolina in order to be eligible for employment at Duke University Hospital.

Foreign medical graduates: additional requirements

Foreign medical graduates are eligible for this ICGME (non-ACGME) fellowship; however, in addition to meeting the above requirements:

  • Applicant must be a permanent U.S. resident (hold a green card).
  • If applicant is not a permanent resident, applicant must be eligible for an H1-B visa.
    • The department will sponsor an H1-B visa only when there are extenuating circumstances and if there are division/section funds available to provide payment for fees associated with the H1-B visa (i.e. $460 petition fee, $500 fraud fee, and $2500 premium processing fee) totaling $3460.
    • Applicants who are currently in the U.S. on a J-1 clinical house staff visa are not eligible for an H1-B visa because a J-1 visa cannot be transferred to an H-1B visa due to the 2-year home requirement. However, J-1 research visa's are transferrable.
    • Effective 2021: The ECFMG will no longer sponsor J-1 clinical house staff visa's for "non-standard" (meaning ICGME-Institutional Council for Graduate Medical Education) programs.
  • Foreign medical graduates must hold a valid and current ECFMG Certificate. For foreign nationals who are medical graduates of LCME-accredited schools in the U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico, copies of the diploma will suffice in lieu of an ECFMG Certificate.
  • For more information, please visit the Duke Visa Services web site at https://visaservices.duke.edu/.


More about the Durham & Chapel Hill area

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Cheryl DePaolisFellowship Program Coordinator
Department of Orthopaedic Surgery
Duke University School of Medicine

Wendy Thompson/ Tyranicia Green
Residency and Fellowship Program Coordinators
Department of Orthopaedic Surgery
Duke University School of Medicine